Valhalla History

 

          In 1957 Earl Ingebright began searching for some land to buy as investment and for recreation. It seemed everyone in the Seattle area was looking for recreation property and had a "cabin" on Bainbridge Island or Whidbey or Hoods Canal. He watched the newspaper ads and waited. Earl wanted some timberland and Laurine wanted a place on Hoods Canal close to the water, swimming and boating.

They continued to peruse the newspaper ads and they soon localized their search to the area northeast of Everett. An Interesting parcel came up for sale on the Jordan road near Granite Falls. It consisted of three odd-shaped parcels and totaled about 63 acres. They looked at the place and it had four dilapidated buildings on it. All were hand built from locally cut cedar around the turn of the century. But there was certain magic to the place. Perhaps it was the 400-foot sheer cliffs that dominated the rear of the place. Maybe it was something else.  In addition to the main two bedroom house there was a barn, hen house and woodshed. All were in pretty bad shape. A poor family had lived there and not much had been done.

The house was slowly reconditioned by the Ingebright family and a squadron of volunteers from their church and friends. The house had been built with double wall construction and the hollow middle part filled with sawdust. A good design given the cold winters in the northwest. Sawdust must have been plentiful given that this part of Snohomish County was being actively logged at that time. A paste made from a mixture of flour and water had been used with local newsprint and applied to the walls to keep the sawdust from spilling out. Newspapers are still readable today and show dates from around 1901.

Earl and his family continued to expand and improve the house, barn and trails on weekends. The beavers constructed a five-acre pond that soon had excellent trout fishing.  The Church group found the peace, tranquility and shear beauty of the place to be momentous. The “farm” as it was called, soon became a place to celebrate birthdays, the fourth of July and Memorial Day. The groups from their Church found the spirituality of the woods, tree and mountains. Running water from the hand-dug well, an outdoor solar-heated shower and refrigeration from a donated Antique Ice Box provided creature conveniences.

Earl added a home built rowboat for the beaver ponds, a model T tractor and father son minibike project. Earl came across the parts and pieces of an old Post Office. The Tellers cage and several bays of PO boxes were stored in the old barn for a future antique Post Office to be built at the corner of "Third and Union", a family name given to an intersection on the service road. Third and Union is the intersection in downtown Seattle where the Post Office resides. The weekends through these years were full of fun and enjoyment of the property with hands-on projects involving gardening, woodcraft, hiking and the enjoyment of nature.

The focal point of each summer was a Salmon BBQ that Earl and his friends Fred Lombard and Bob Clifton hosted.

 

 

Fred and Bob had land and other dealings with the Swinomish Indians of LaConner and learned the NW Indian method of cooking a salmon over an Alder fire. Earl invited his Post Office dept and attendance to these “Clajm Bakes” soon grew to nearly 100 people. There were funny games and a door prize that was a door off of an old car. Another door prize was the head of a salmon mounted on a plaque that had to be kept frozen by its winner and brought back the next year.

One year a hidden water sprinkler was rigged up in the bottom of the fire pit. Just before it was time to serve the salmon, Earl got the attention of everyone and announced that Fred would now conjure up the God of all Salmon or some other zany thing. Upon a cue, David began pumping on an old WWII fire pump hidden in the woods and a geyser of water shot up out of the fire. It was so quiet; you could hear everyone draw in a breath as they marveled at the sight.

 

It all culminated in a Salmon Barbeque on the 23rd of July 1969. The day man first walked on the Moon. That day, Earl announced his transfer to be the Inspector in Charge, Post Office San Francisco Region. It was a good party but it ended on a sad note. The family had to move to California. They boarded up the old homesteaders house, chained the barn, sold the bulldozer, locked the gate and said goodbye to Valhalla. 

Six years later, in 1975 Earl retired after 30 years with the Post Office. He was Inspector in Charge, New York Region, having moved from California in 1972. He and Laurine moved back to Seattle and settled into retired life. Earl went to check on the state of the farm and returned to Seattle sick. The farmhouse had been ransacked, everything stolen and all the windows smashed. The same with the barn. The power poles had even been taken out by the power company. The post office gone, minibike and boat. All stolen. He thought, no big deal, it was all second hand, giveaways and, well the post office should have been put in storage but... what could you do now. He bought five acres near LaConner from his friend Bob Clifton and proceeded to build a big garage and shop.

 

David moved back to Seattle in 1976 after four years with the Coast Guard. He still felt the magic of the "farm" and remembered all the fun times growing up. When he went and checked on things he too came away sick to see the destruction. But the real beauty of the place remained. The feeling of peace and solitude when passing through the gate, the clear waters of the ponds, the glistening of the sheer rock cliffs and the smell of the earth. David began to spend his weekends there, working on the trails, woodcraft projects and later fixing the old pioneers house.

He replaced the glass, built a stove and constructed a sleeping loft. With no power, he ran the place on a 12-volt car battery complete with a car tape deck and lights in the bedroom and kitchen. Earl and Laurine gradually came back, at first for a dinner BBQ and later to hike the trails, fish the ponds and enjoy the magic of Valhalla. Earl had begun his college education in Forestry and knew that Valhalla's timber needed a master plan.

 

The place had been logged about 1900 and the second growth had done well even though it had naturally reseeded itself. The mix of Fir, Hemlock, Spruce, Alder, Fir and Cedar had matured nicely in the Western Washington climate. Earl and David contacted a private forestry consultant and worked out a 100-year plan for the management of the Valhalla timber. It was agreed that the front "twenty" needed to be clear-cut and immediately reseeded. They contracted with a logger and the clear-cut was accomplished in the spring of 1987. It was immediately replanted with one-year-old fast growing Weyerhaeuser Douglas Fir seedlings.  With the dollars from the logging, they had an aluminum pole building constructed and had power brought in. A phone line followed and the place became more civilized than it had been in a long time. They purchased an older Case tractor to help with maintenance. Earl designed a "family condo" a three bedroom, three-bath house that would serve up to three families without having jam-ups at the  bathrooms. They had the shell of the house built and Earl plumbed it and David wired it. It was trimmed with wood from Valhalla timber. A smaller barn was constructed near the picnic shed. It was made from the big cedar beams of the original barn. It’s used to house the tractor and dozer and provides more room for the growing variety of equipment, tools and stuff.

By 1990, more changes were in the wind. A large parcel behind Valhalla was up for sale. It included Kings Lake and the falls. Comprised of about 180 Acres, it was the same second growth timber and we held our breath.  It was sold to three investors who had it clear cut and divided it into 20 acre parcels for sale.